Sexed up Nurses…offensive or flattering?

Why do we care so much if we nurses are portrayed as scantally clad sex objects?

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In the June issue of Nursing2005, Cheryl L. Mee, RN, BC, CMSRN, MSN (editor-in-chief) wrote the following:

If you’re like me, you enjoy jokes about nursing when they’re in good taste. Many professions provide fodder for humor, with politicians, lawyers, and health care professionals high on the list. Frankly, though, I’m fed up with sexual stereotyping of nurses.

What’s gotten me up on my soapbox is a Canadian ad campaign launched in March by Virgin Mobile phone service. To grab attention, company owner Richard Branson, posing as a superhero atop a Toronto building, slid down a cable to a public square, jumped into a monster truck, drove it over three cars, and saved three nurses wearing stiletto heels and skimpy skirts. The nurses were supposedly there to cure the ills caused by other mobile services.

When the Canadian Nurses Association learned about the stunt, they quickly communicated their outrage to Virgin Mobile, demanding an apology and a halt to the ad campaign. The Ontario Nurses Association urged its 21,000 members to boycott the company. (You can read about the ad campaign and nursing’s response at The Center for Nursing Advocacy Web site, http://www.nursingadvocacy.org/news/2005mar/virgin.html .)

Defiant, Virgin Mobile says it has no intention of stopping the ads. In fact, life-sized cutouts of the nurses now appear in malls and retail stores where the company’s products are sold.

We nurses have worked hard to advance our profession and dispel sexist myths. A tasteless stunt like Branson’s sets us back. Portraying nurses as empty-headed bimbos demeans our important work and the education and skills it demands.

When I think about the people watching Branson’s antics-especially teens, men, and others who might be considering a nursing career-I recognize that the messages they’re getting are strong and wrong. At a time when we desperately need to recruit more of the best and brightest, these messages drive potential nursing students away. Who’d want to enter a profession of shallow, incompetent, laughable girls?

If you share my outrage, write Virgin Mobile. But also think about other times when cartoonish portrayals of nurses have made you angry. Do you set the offender straight or do you let it slide?

I’m not letting it slide anymore, and neither should you. The next time you see or hear someone putting us down, set him straight. By speaking out, you can help eradicate demeaning stereotypes and educate the public about what we do. Let others see the pride you rightly feel as a hardworking professional nurse.

I have to say that my Ivy League educated, 30 year old, additude laden persona LIKES to be thought of as sexy. My profession is thought of in many sex fantasies? Is that so wrong?

OH WAIT! Nurses are also considered the nation’s most honest and ethical professionals!

Dec. 8, 2004 — Nurses are America’s most honest and ethical professionals, according to a new Gallup survey. Nearly 80% of the annual poll’s participants ranked nurses “very high” or “high” for honesty and ethics.

Honest, ethical—–and sexy?

Seeing posts like this one on medGadget makes me pause.

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Should I be offended as the 50 something (overweight, insecure) nursing professionals at the top of the field dictate? Or, should I smile and spend my time concentrating on the real reasons nurses are not looked at as professionals.

  1. Maybe you’re not offended because so many of us already think you’re honest, ethical, smart….and sexy as all hell!

    That’s always the rub, isn’t it? Unsexy people complaining that someone else is sexy. It’s just not fair!
    People need to be thought of in gender-neutral, intangible-based terms only.

    I have a word for people like that.

    Uninteresting.

  2. Maybe you’re not offended because so many of us already think you’re honest, ethical, smart….and sexy as all hell!

    That’s always the rub, isn’t it? Unsexy people complaining that someone else is sexy. It’s just not fair!
    People need to be thought of in gender-neutral, intangible-based terms only.

    I have a word for people like that.

    Uninteresting.

  3. Every profession has its laughable stereotypes. As nurses we face real practice issues as well as a profound shortage. I believe we would be better served if we spent our time and energy dealing with those.

  4. Every profession has its laughable stereotypes. As nurses we face real practice issues as well as a profound shortage. I believe we would be better served if we spent our time and energy dealing with those.

  5. Okay, we have the male weigh in on this…thanks guys.

    Pat—I always love to hear things like that!

    Paul—does this kind of stereotype even phase male nurses?

    How about any other males in the profession? What is your take on this?

  6. Okay, we have the male weigh in on this…thanks guys.

    Pat—I always love to hear things like that!

    Paul—does this kind of stereotype even phase male nurses?

    How about any other males in the profession? What is your take on this?

  7. I don’t think that the ‘sexy nurse’ thing is keeping guys from becoming nurses. I believe nursing has never been viewed as a real profession.

    You may know I’m pretty new to nursing, and until after I was in nursing school I didn’t know nurses did as much as they do. I’ve noticed the guys I work with and the ones I went to school with were at least familiar with the healthcare system. Many were medics in the military or EMTs/EMT-P’s. One was a massage therapist. These are guys who know what nursing is about.

    I guess it’s about image, and nursing needs a re-vamp. I think Johnson and Johnson started a good thing, and maybe some of the nursing associations could spend a bit and come together and get a few more programs going to promote it as a profession.
    .
    .
    .
    But then again, if wearing my scrubs and a stethescope around the house were to get me a little more lovin’… Let’s jus’ say I aint gonna’ complain… 😉 lol

  8. I don’t think that the ‘sexy nurse’ thing is keeping guys from becoming nurses. I believe nursing has never been viewed as a real profession.

    You may know I’m pretty new to nursing, and until after I was in nursing school I didn’t know nurses did as much as they do. I’ve noticed the guys I work with and the ones I went to school with were at least familiar with the healthcare system. Many were medics in the military or EMTs/EMT-P’s. One was a massage therapist. These are guys who know what nursing is about.

    I guess it’s about image, and nursing needs a re-vamp. I think Johnson and Johnson started a good thing, and maybe some of the nursing associations could spend a bit and come together and get a few more programs going to promote it as a profession.
    .
    .
    .
    But then again, if wearing my scrubs and a stethescope around the house were to get me a little more lovin’… Let’s jus’ say I aint gonna’ complain… 😉 lol

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